As you may know, I have personally been working closely with Antonio the last couple of years promoting his book on Italian vegetables in the framework of our Italian seed brand, he supported us both at the Chelsea Flower show and at our stand at Borough Market with his presence this year and I met with him at his house just recently, with my accordion!
Although I already knew Antonio fairly well, we developed a deeper mutual respect and liking for each other’s passion for food and growing. I was told about his passing yesterday before it was made public and I was devastated. As an ambassador for the Italian community and excellence in Italian food and culture, he was up there.
But that aside, he was a lovely, lovely man, charming, fun and young at heart, with a knowledge, an understanding and a passion for what he did.
Certainly I personally would like to offer my respects to him and his family at this time, but also on behalf of the horticultural community too as we often forget that without those celebrity chefs using produce grown from our seeds, putting those varieties in front of millions of viewers and readers and making them cool, demand would be reduced for all of us.
I for one cannot think of Antonio without smiling. So tonight I will be cracking a bottle of prosecco and proposing a toast to the Godfather of Italian cooking from my family to his, and from all of us. Grazie Antonio. RIP.